Chinese, British researchers create dissolvable electronics for medical implants

The research was described in a paper in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.  The components worked under dry conditions for more than three months.  In water, the electrodes and albumin dissolved in two to 10 hours.  The remaining chip took about three days to break down, leaving minimal residues.  “This work demonstrates a new way to fabricate biocompatible and dissolvable electronic devices by using cheap, abundant, and 100% natural materials for the forthcoming bioelectronics era as well as for environmental sensors when the Internet-of-things takes off,” concluded the paper’s authors.

The component they made is a “memristor”, or memory resistor, which is a new type of resistor that regulates the flow of electric current and also can ‘remember’ charges.  Biocompatibility and closed-loop devices are trends that are likely to help drive the medical segment in the long-term future, as the industry works to recover from a long history of materials that often are not very compatible with long-term implantation in the human body and, at the same time, tries to increasingly get data from devices out of the body to enable feedback to update treatment that could ultimately be automatic.

The researchers took egg albumin, the white of an egg, and made it into an ultrathin film.  They incorporated electrodes made out of magnesium and tungsten.  The researchers see potential applications including localized drug delivery and pollution monitoring.  Authors were from Zhejiang University, Fujian University of Technology, the University of Cambridge and the University of Bolton.  The research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Research Fund for the Doctoral Program of Higher Education of China.

REFERENCE:  Fierce Medical Devices; 29 APR 2016; Stacy Lawrence

Leave a Comment